Bluegrass Rules

We had a great time at the Darrington Bluegrass Festival. Well, I had a good time. John thinks that “bluegrass festival” and “great time” are phrases that just should never be used in the same sentence. He gets bored with the banjos after about the first hour, though he’s a good sport and keeps going to these events with me. True love, I tell you.

The Darrington festival is a three day event: Friday night through Sunday late afternoon. The festival is in its 29th year, and is held in a big outdoor amphitheater. The place is surrounded by the northern Cascade mountains, and the sound is great. The population has strong roots to the state of North Carolina, due to mill workers being brought in decades ago to work in the local mill. The festival always has a couple of “big name” headliners, but most of the rest of the performers are local, and play very traditional style mountain bluegrass.

We stayed in a rustic resort about 20 miles from Darrington called the Skagit River Resort. They have a huge rabbit population that runs wild. According to the locals, the bunnies were imported years ago, and when the population got a bit out of hand, they were just released to the wild. They make for great photo opportunities, but I suspect I’d get sick and tired of bunny droppings on everything after awhile.

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Here’s the festival stage at night:

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Bluegrass festivals make for great knitting time. Here I am working on Rogue. Friday night it was cool enough that I wished I was done with it so I could wear it.

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If you are performing on the stage, this is the view:

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Here is a photo of my all-time favorite bluegrass band, Country Current. They are five of the best in the business. And they look pretty sharp in their uniforms as well.

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One of the great things about this festival is that it is truly a family event. There is plenty of space for camping, and people come with their kids and their campers, and there is music playing in the campground all night long. Apparently hula hoops have come back into vogue, for those of you who missed it the first time around.

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Here I am knitting, with that view behind me.

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I finished the hood on Rogue, and started on the first sleeve. The hood grafting wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. Instead of worrying about grafting the reverse stockinette sections “backwards”, I just grafted the whole thing in stockinette. At least in this yarn, it all blends in, and you can’t tell the difference.

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Here is what the park looked like on Sunday:

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And my sock’s view:

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So when’s the next bluegrass festival, dear??

Update

Catchy title, eh?

This blog post is being brought to you from my neighbor’s basement. Yes, I can access our home wireless network from the neighbor’s house. I guess it’s a good thing that we set up the security features when we installed the network. I even printed something to our printer from here this morning.

We got evicted from our house yesterday by the floor guys. The final coat went on the wood floors yesterday, and they were not kidding when they said that we wouldn’t want to be in the house. We packed up the cats and moved over here for the night. We’re going to be out of town for the weekend so hopefully it will have aired out by the time we get back. Riley is already at her little doggie bed and breakfast for the weekend.

So where are we going this time? Here.  I love me some good bluegrass music, and I get to go to the mountains to hear a whole weekend of it. Country Current is one of my favorite bluegrass bands, so I couldn’t pass this one up. It’s an outdoor venue, and I’m taking all of my knitting projects and planning on a great time.

Here are some pictures:

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I’m up to where the hood shaping starts on Rogue. Knitting with this yarn still bugs my hand a bit, but I’ve gotten enough strength back so I can knit six or eight rows before I drag out the ice pack for relief. I’m really trying hard not to overdo it.

I turned the heel on the sock yesterday also. Turning heels never ceases to amaze me. I’m easily amused.

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And here is a view of our lake from our neighbor’s deck:

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Lucy spent much of yesterday afternoon under the bed here. She was a bit freaked out at coming over here, but has adapted, and is clearly making herself at home.

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The banjos are calling me. I’ll be back after the weekend!

Birch Shawl

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Started: August 2004
Finished: July 2005. This one sat on the back burner for a long time after I started it. It is also the first big project that I finished after my hand injury.

Yarn: Rowan KidSilk Haze, in Liqueur
Pattern: Birch, from Rowan 34, Fall/Winter 2003

What I learned:
This was my first big lace project. I learned to use a lifeline, and not to get cocky and take it out because I thought I had mastered the pattern repeat. I also learned that you do NOT want to rip out KidSilk Haze. I learned that I love knitting lace. It’s magic when those little patterns appear. It’s even more magic when you block it and that pile of mohair turns into exquisite lace.

Birch, Done

Here are the promised Birch action shots. It’s not so easy to take pictures of this on a breezy day, let me tell you.

Here’s the shawl enjoying a nice day in the hammock:

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Riley likes it, too.

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And the “Claudia“:

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This took me forever to knit, not because it was difficult, which it is not. The hand escapade intervened and took three months off my knitting life. The pattern is easy, though knitting with KidSilk Haze can be a pain at times. I love this, and will likely wear it often.

Project details will be in the next post.

New Lace

I haven’t taken that Birch action shot just yet. Of course, now that it’s done, the sky is cloudy and not at all conducive to taking even a remotely decent photo. I have worn it, though, and love it. I can see wearing it often!

Since this is the Summer of Lace and all, I started a new lace project. Actually this is an old project that I started way before I started this blog. It’s the Lead or Follow lace scarf from HeartStrings FiberArts.  She doesn’t sell retail from her website any longer, though you can buy her patterns at various retail shops.

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That’s what the pattern is supposed to look like when finished and blocked. Here’s mine so far:

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I actually was about ten rows farther than this, but for some reason that escapes me, I didn’t write down where I was when I left off. I suppose that I had the notion that when I put it down that it wouldn’t sit unattended for two years before I started again. After I fiddled a bit with it, I lost patience and ripped it all out and started over.  The yarn is Richesse et Soie, a cashmere/silk blend from Knit One Crochet Too. This is truly yummy yarn to work with, though a bit spendy to make much more than a scarf. Here’s the deal though: I bought this years ago when it was cheaper, so my yarn-stashing retirement plan is actually working!

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Here’s a new-to-me blog that will make you spit your coffee all over your keyboard. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.  You Knit What?? has photos of all those lovely projects you’ve been just dying to make.

Pinning Ceremony

Birch is done! Yee-Ha! I finished it last night at 2AM, while watching the first of the Lord of the Rings series on DVD (for the umpteenth time). There wasn’t anything on TV that would keep me awake, and I just had gotten to that point where I had to finish it or else.

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This is sort of a down-and-dirty blocking, which I may have to re-do at some point when my house is back to normal. The only relatively flat surface I have available at the moment is one of the extra beds, and the room is so jammed with junk from the rest of the house that it was hard to maneuver around to pin it straight. I have a set of blocking wires somewhere. “Somewhere” is the key word in that sentence. I found the instructions to the blocking wires today while looking for something else, but strangely enough, the wires and the instructions were not in the same box.

I also have a homemade blocking board made with plywood, styrofoam, and canvas, but it’s not big enough for this. It’s also behind stuff in the garage. Murphy’s law of home remodeling is that no matter what it is you need to find, it will always be in the box behind the most stuff in the garage. At least I had the sense to pack the wine in boxes in FRONT of everything else, so we can get to it readily.

When we were looking at carpet this week at the flooring store, I noticed that they carry these:

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Has anybody tried these for blocking? The ones that they had in the store had a smooth surface, and come in a 2 foot by 2 foot size. They sure would take up less space for storage when not being used.

As soon as that sucker is dry, I’ll post a twirling-around picture, and details of the project.

Chaos, Part 2

Unfortunately, I think there might be more than 2 parts to this home-remodeling chaos. The floors are sanded, stained, and have the first finish coat on them. The painters got them covered up with paper before I could get a good shot. Tuesday the painting guys showed up, and we are finally getting an idea what this will look like when it’s all done. Here are some photos:

Our bedroom, wrapped in plastic.

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Everything in the house was previously painted a stark white. When we get done with it, the trim and ceilings will be a creamy white, with a yellow shade for the walls, and a light sage color for our bedroom.

The new bathroom door that the guys rigged up:

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Riley loves this project. There is somebody new at the house every day. She thinks they are all here just to see her.knitting_update_7705_023

Lucy the Cowardly doesn’t think much of the whole project. Being the big chicken that she is, she has discovered this spot in the TV/cable box cabinet to hide out.

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Here are our new French doors out to our patio, with the first coat of yellow on the walls:

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And a shot from our kitchen which shows just a little of how different this place is going to look when we’re done with it:

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The really bad part about remodeling is the “oops, I made a clean spot” phenomenon. This really started as a wood floor project, then morphed into knocking out walls and replacing tile, painting, and new doors. Yesterday we decided that all the carpet in the upstairs master bedroom level is going to look like crap next to the new tile and paint, so it’s going as well. I don’t want to pack up all that junk upstairs into boxes twice. It’s all jammed into the garage now, so we might as well go for it. We picked out the floor carpet yesterday in about five minutes. I think I have reached that “I can’t make any more decisions right now” point.

On the knitting front, I have gotten a bit more done on Birch, in between micro-managing the home project. I’m hoping to have it done by the weekend. Blocking might have to wait a bit until the mess around here is under some control, though.

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We received some very sad news over the weekend. If you’ve been visiting here regularly, you’ve met Daisie, our neighbors’ Corgi. She and Riley were best friends, since my husband would pick her up on the way to the park almost every day over the last year. Daisie was hit by a car on Sunday, and died instantly of her injuries. She was just the sweetest dog I’ve ever met, and we’ll all miss her greatly.knitting_update_12805_012_1

Chaos

That would be my house at the moment. The remodeling is proceeding, though messily and slowly. The front entrance tile is almost in, and the grouting and finishing will hopefully be done in a few days. The boys are here to sand the wood floors this morning, and we are plastic-sheeted into a corner of our house. After the floors get finished, the other boys will come and paint the whole upstairs. I will almost be glad to go back to work tomorrow so I can pretend this just doesn’t exist for awhile.

Here are a few pictures. Where our living room used to be is now a dance hall. We tried it out the other night after a few bourbons, and I think we’ll turn it back into a living room. Note the classy furniture.

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Here’s the front tile.

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My yarn is locked up behind several layers of plastic, doors, and boxes, hopefully to keep the sawdust out.

When life is in chaos, I shop. It seems that there is an epidemic of yarn-buying around the blogs this week, so I joined the crowd. I couldn’t resist buying enough Cotton Ease for two sweaters of some sort. I ordered it from the Lion Brand website, and it hasn’t arrived yet to take pictures, but I got the Banana Cream and the Candy Blue colors. Sitcom Chic, here I come!

Elann has Pakucho Organic Cotton on sale, and I bought enough in Forest to make this cardigan:

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I’ve had the pattern for awhile, but didn’t get around to getting the yarn until now.

Last but not least, Alpaca & Silk, from Blue Sky Alpacas, purchased from Knit Pixie. I want one of everything they have for sale! This will be a lacy scarf someday when it grows up. It is indeed as pretty as it looks.

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Lest you think that all I do is shop for yarn and dream about new projects, here are photos of actual knitting. The three projects are the Rogue sweater, the Black Hole Birch shawl, and the Lorna’s Laces socks.

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I’m going to go find someplace quieter than home to knit today….say, perhaps by the runway at SeaTac.

Merrily We Rogue Along

When we last saw that mystery Rogue, it was way back in March; back before I discovered that I apparently can’t walk and drink at the same time. Here is where we left off with the Rogue tale:

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This week I decided to tackle this again. My hand still doesn’t like knitting cables in heavy worsted wool, but I figured I needed to get back at this. I’ve managed to get about a dozen rows done on the hood this week, though very slowly. At this pace I’ll finish it by winter.

I finished my first week back at work yesterday. The fingers made it through OK, though after ten or twelve (or sixteen) hours of writing in a day, I needed ice therapy.  It wasn’t nearly as difficult as I worried that it would be. After three months of enforced “vacation”, I easily remembered all the essential information I needed to get through my day. I remembered where the bathrooms were, all the nurses’ names, which doctors go with which specialty, and the phone numbers that I call regularly (emergency room!). It helped that it is summertime, and our hospital census was on the manageable side. After a seven-day, roughly 80-90 hour work week, I now have a week off to recover until the next one. And maybe get some knitting done.

I did discover one good thing this week. I really missed work. I love what I do, and though I do my share of bitching (or is that birching?) about a variety of crap on a regular basis, I really did miss it.  My work can be a challenge at times. I function as the “lead” doctor for up to six or seven hospitalists in the hospital that I mostly practice at. In addition to seeing a full roster of patients daily, I am in charge of managing the “patient list”: I make sure that every patient that our group is supposed to be seeing is assigned to a doctor, which isn’t always as simple as it sounds. (Organizing doctors can be a little like herding cats some days.) I coordinate admissions via the ER and outpatient offices, as well as the occasional transfer from other smaller hospitals in the region. And triage what seems like hundreds of phone calls daily.

And amongst all the whining that I can do about how difficult and energy-sucking it sometimes is, I rediscovered this week that I wouldn’t want to do anything else but what I am doing.

Home Again, Home Again…

We are finally home from the Great Wine Buying Expedition of 2005. We left almost two weeks ago, and just got home last night. We drove down the Oregon coast, then down the California Coast just past Mendocino. We turned east and drove through the Anderson valley, tasting along the way, then into Napa. After nearly a week in the Napa valley, we headed home through the Mt. Shasta area, and stopped in Ashland, Oregon to take in a Shakespeare performance. After a night in Portland with friends, we headed home. All in all we put more than 2000 miles on the Dogmobile (John’s car), though I suspect a lot of those miles were driving up and down the Napa valley, dipping in and out of wineries.

The trip was very relaxing, and with only a couple of minor glitches along the way. John had a run-in with the law the first day and has a speeding ticket to prove it (his first ever, so not bad I guess). We took a ton of pictures all along the coast. On day five of the trip, I managed to delete every last picture on the camera. Don’t ask. There were a lot of swear words involved. And I wasn’t even drinking wine at that point. At least we have the pictures from the last half of the trip.

We stayed in a number of swell little hotels and inns along the way, and then spent six days in Napa, staying in a timeshare that was billed as “individual cottages”. We’ve found that there is a wide variation in accommodations when you exchange timeshares; this one was no exception. The “cottages” basically were a trailer court. When we drove into the resort, we saw hundreds of little trailers all backed into lots right next to each other. They were all painted different colors at least, and were nicely landscaped. They were quite comfortable and adequate inside, though the outside was a hoot. Here is a picture:

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That’s my new sock in progress. In Harlot fashion, I have dozens of pictures of that sock all over the Left Coast. Well, I HAD pictures, anyway. Here are a few from the trip to Shasta:

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I managed to get to two yarn shops on the trip. The first was in Lakeside, Oregon, a shop called Angelika’s Yarn Store. It’s in this tiny town, way out of town in the bottom level of the owner’s home. I used to have good pictures of that one. She has the most amazing collection of Lorna’s Laces, with just about every yarn and color in stock. I bought one little skein of Helen’s Lace for a shawl.

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The other yarn shop was The Web-sters, in Ashland. Here’s what I got there:

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It’s Mountain Colors Bearfoot, for socks.

All in all, a lovely trip. I’m glad to be home, and I have to get to go back to work tomorrow; first day after my three months off. I hope I remember where the bathrooms are.

I’ll try to post some pictures later this week of more knitting progress. Between wine tastings, I did manage to make some progress on that sock, as well as on Birch. This week may be pretty much shot to hell, though what with going back to work, and this:

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This morning the floor people came and tore up all the carpets in our main level, in preparation for the wood floor installation. It’s just a mess around here. I’ve spent most of my day packing up as much crap as possible in boxes so I don’t have to clean wood dust out of everything I own after the sanding. It’s too bad they couldn’t have done this while we were gone.

It’s good to be back!

John’s Striped Socks

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Started: September, 2004
Finished: May 29, 2005. I’m not THAT slow of a knitter, really. Between getting sidetracked by other siren-song projects, and the hand thing, these sat in time-out for a long while.

Details: The yarn is Rodel Sport & Strumpf Wolle, purchased in a yarn shop in Heidelberg. It’s a wool/polyamid blend, and is self-striping. Other than one skein that had been cut and knotted in one place, it was great to knit with. It took 3 skeins to make a man-size pair of socks.
These are toe-up, short-row heeled socks. The pattern was created by Sole Solution software. For John’s size, I ended up with 72 stitches around, and they are just a bit snug on him in the leg. Next time I make him socks, I will probably increase a bit in the calf to give him a little more room. Knit with size 2.25mm needles, and 2mm for the cuffs.

What I learned: These were my first toe-up socks, and the first short-row heels that I have done, though I’ve used short-row shaping in other projects. They aren’t perfect, but not bad for my first attempt.

Dulaan Scarf

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Started: March 2005
Finished: May 2005

Details: Beaverslide Dry Goods yarn, in Prairie Aster. It’s a 1×1 rib, I had one hank of this yarn and just knit until it was gone. Needle size 5mm.

For: The Dulaan Knitting Project

What I learned: no new knitting skills on this one. This was the first thing I finished after my hand injury, so I have a special fondness for it. I also just love this yarn. I want a pile of it in every color.

And The Winner Is…

Lorna’s Laces Watercolor, in a landslide. The Opal Orange was second, thanks to Claudia stuffing the ballot box. The other two were tied for the finish. There may have been a few convicted felons voting as well, so the vote may be thrown out months from now. But for now the LL will be my next pair of socks, though I think I will keep that orange stuff close by for inspiration. I’ve become a bit partial to it myself.

John’s Striped Socks are now done. I finished them up this morning as my sweetie cooked me bacon, eggs, and hashbrowns for breakfast. And he did the dishes, so he certainly deserves a new pair of socks.

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He put them on as soon as he got out of the shower. Conveniently, the temperature has dropped 30 degrees since yesterday, so he will actually be able to wear them. What was that rumor about the arrival of summer??

You might notice that these socks are identical twins. It took a bit of fiddling, but those stripes match nearly perfectly. This was my first foray into toe-up-short-row-heel socks. I still like doing them the other way, but this method has the definite advantage of allowing you to use every bit of yarn if you want longer socks. I know that a lot of sock knitters don’t like top down socks because they despise grafting toes, but I actually enjoy that step. It’s nice to know more than one way how to do something, though.

Here’s the morning cat picture:

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Yes, that’s a pile of wood in my kitchen where the table used to be. We are in the middle of some home renovation. All the ratty cat-puke stained carpet on the main level will be replaced by wood flooring, and it got delivered Friday morning. At 6:15 AM. There’s more going on, including a few projects that involved cutting holes into walls that didn’t have holes, and plastering up a window that we just hated. It’s been a mess around here. The floor is due to be installed in a couple of weeks, but the wood was here, so there it is. We actually aren’t going to replace the kitchen table. We figure everybody always ends up in the kitchen hanging out at parties, instead of using the other rooms of the house, so we’re going to put a sofa and coffee table here instead once the renovation is done.

We’re off on a road trip on Tuesday for a couple of weeks. We’re headed to Napa for some wine tasting (out of plastic safety glasses, of course). We’re going to head down the coast of Oregon and California, then drive back up through the Mt. Shasta area. On the trip home we’re taking in a Shakespeare play in Ashland, Oregon, then spending a day with friends in Portland. I’m taking my laptop along, but posting will depend on wi-fi access along the way. I heard a rumor that Oregon and northern California have some swell yarn shops. Then when we get home, reality will set in, and I will have to get to go back to work, after three months off.

I’ve updated my Finished Projects page as well with all the details.

Graduation!

I graduated from hand therapy today! My last OT session with Amy was this morning, and though I still have a ways to go to be even close to normal, the rest of the work is on my own. (No comments from my family members on the use of the term “normal” to describe myself.)

The main thing that is still missing is strength. While my hands have never been particularly strong, my right hand is still at about half the strength of the left. And my dexterity is still a bit lacking, though improving daily. My penmanship sucks. (No comments from ANY of you about doctors and their handwriting. Mine actually was pretty good before all this.) I am officially due to go back to work in about two weeks, so I’m working on it. I’ve sporadically kept an offline journal over the years, and have gone back to handwriting it for practice.

I got new jewelry out of the deal, at least. When I cut the tendons, I also cut the fibrous sheath/pulley that holds the tendons in place, so I have to wear a protective band on my index finger for the next year to protect it. I finally got tired of the adhesive tape thing that I was doing, and we went to buy a ring last week. Here it is:

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Purty, eh?

My knitting is doing better than my handwriting. I’m not a speed-demon yet, but it’s getting there. Here is where I am on the Birch shawl:

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And I finished the Beaverslide scarf:

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This will get sent to the Dulaan project eventually. I’d like to do one more item so I don’t feel like an idiot just sending one stupid thing.

And here is where I am on John’s Striped Socks:

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Just before I got to that last yellow stripe, there was a knot in the yarn. Not just any knot, the yarn  was cut and retied, and of course the stripe sequence was all off. This is the only time this has happened in three skeins of this yarn, but I was truly pissed off at having to dither around and figure out how to get the stripes right. This should just not happen in self-striping yarn.

And now for the audience participation portion of this blog entry. As you can see, I will finish these socks soon.  I have yarn in the stash for about 9000 pairs of socks, and am having trouble choosing just one. I picked a few, and am asking for a vote. Leave your choice in the comments; I’ll go with the winner. These will be for me, as I haven’t made myself a pair of socks in awhile.

First up is a pretty orange and pink Opal:

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Next is Happy Trails, in the color Amelia:

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Or, how about Lorna’s Laces Watercolor?

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Last is Sockotta Watercolor:

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I’ll decide the winner on Sunday, so cast your vote in the comments before then!